HIMSS News

The Value of the Frontline in Downtime

Lorren Pettit, MBA, Vice President, Market ResearcHIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights

In last month’s Trend Spotter post, I shared an idea on what informatics workers could do when there is “downtime” within their organization. The suggestion was to focus on developing and strengthening the relationships we have with our co-workers. For example, explore why the members of the informatics team have pursued a career in healthcare. What have they learned about themselves and others while in the field? What would they do if they weren’t in healthcare? In the discovery, it is my contention that the team itself will have a greater appreciation for one another and may work more cohesively together.

In this month’s posting, I’d like to continue on with that thought and share another idea for the informatics team to consider. Whereas last month’s focus was on developing and strengthening internal relationships, this month I want to focus on relationships external to the Informatics department. More specifically, the hospital’s admitting and attending physicians.

A few years ago I worked as a physician consultant for a well-known healthcare performance improvement organization. I had the great privilege of strategizing with hospital administrators on ways their organization could improve their relationships with physicians. In my practice, it was often my admonition to hospital leaders that physician relations were not the sole responsibility of the CMO or CNO. It involved the entire organization to take an active role in knowing and understanding the individuals on the clinician staff… and not just the ones who most frequently admit patients to the hospital. There are a number of clinicians who would be “friendlier” to the hospital if they knew the hospital staff could make their practice easier.

As the role of informatics can sometimes been seen as a negative to some clinicians (e.g. the quality police), I believe it is essential that the informatics team have a defined plan for reaching out to all members of the clinician staff. We should develop a plan for “promoting” what we do as well as how the department’s efforts have benefited clinicians. But the contact should not be one-sided. To be effective, we must ask how the informatics department can better serve clinician needs. 

Having an informatics department clinician relationships plan is something that should be incorporated into the team’s normal day-to-day activities. Having “downtime” is an ideal opportunity for the informatics team members to activate their plans.

About the Contributor
Lorren Pettit is Vice President of Market Research for HIMSS Analytics. He works with an expert team offering clients strategic guidance toward achieving sustainable growth and market leadership positioning. 

Keywords: 
downtimedowntime proceduresclinical informatics